Hard Damage

Aria Aber. Univ. of Nebraska, $17.95 (102p) ISBN 978-1-4962-1570-3
Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, Aber’s ruminative lyrical debut tracks the movements of a twice-emigrated poet in poems that are personal and confessional. “Enshrining what cannot be held/ of what went missing,” many of the poems assemble memories, family stories, and news reports to offer a portrait of a young person coming to terms with leaving her ancestral home for a country that has invaded it. “How much/ of my yearly tax is spent to bomb/ the dirt that birthed me?” she asks. “Is memory a privilege?” “To miss my life in Kabul is to tongue/ pears laced with needles. I had no life/ in Kabul. How, then, can I trust my mind’s long corridor,/ its longing for before?” Throughout, poems shift between stories of her family’s life in Afghanistan, her father’s life in Germany, and Aber’s own life in the United States. One section is made up entirely of associative meditations on words in German and English, and language remains a constant locus of anxiety and inspiration: “As if an Irlicht sweet with sirens,/ language lured me in, then punished me for believing in its palace.” Though not every poem here may achieve its ambition, the book engages with important geopolitical events. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/14/2019
Release date: 09/01/2019
Genre: Poetry
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